Today I met up with the cast and crew of Way to Heaven to photograph their dress rehearsal. The play is set in Theresienstadt in Bohemia during World War II and centers around the Commandant (played by Will Bishop), Gershom Gottfried (played by Toby Marlow) and the Red Cross representative (played by Heather Fantham). It plays this week at Corpus Playroom.

Heather Fantham opens the play with a monologue.

“Now, standing here in the woods, I can barely recall the woman that I was then, but I can still recall word for what what I wrote in front of the portrait of the Jewish family that night. What I saw is an ordinary town.”

The lights were rigged in front and to the sides, so by moving onto the stage and shooting at an angle I could get more interesting shadows on Heather’s face.
Ellen McGrath plays the little girl.

“Be a good girl, Leah, and say hello to the nice man”

Jack Morris and Beth D

“Yes, I know no one talks like that in real life. Forget about how you talk in real life”

Beth D. I like how the side lighting only partially lights Beth’s face, and the way it brings out the structure in her shirt.
With the strong spotlight came strong shadows that I tried to capture for dramatic effect.
Isaac Jordan and Elliot Wright
Jack alone on the bench.
Amy Malone. We took this photo before the dress rehearsal started. I like the backlighting and the expression.
Again, playing with the shadows from the spotlight.
Will Bishop enters the stage as the Commandant.

“Der himmelsweg.” Can you say it in German? Please, say it in your own language. “Way to heaven.”

Germany’s uniforms were supplied by Hugo Boss. Phoebe Thomson and Charlie Clark did a great job with the costumes.
“Who can sleep easy when trains travel through the night? Trains travelling through the night. That’s my Europe.”
Toby Marlow as the major of the Jews and Will Bishop

“You have been chosen by Berlin. And, I can say with pride, so have we.”

I like these angles where you have a bit of depth in the photo and you can infer what is going on from the expressions on their faces.
Toby Marlow

“Life isn’t in words. It’s in the gestures we make when we say them”

Will Bishop
Toby’s subtle body language spoke volumes. Nervously twitching his hands.

“I thought I heard a train last night.”


“Smile and you’ll end up happy. The wisdom of actors”

Spinoza’s ethics.

“Hatred that is overcome by love becomes love. And that love is greater than if hatred had not been its forerunner.” Ethics, Proposition 44.


“Nobody ever notices the colour of a cripple’s eyes”

With a few simple props they created an office space for the Commandant. It is amazing how the brain fills in the rest.

“Your people find it so hard to smile.”

Rather than showing the entire Commandant I try and depict his presence using only his boots.

“Everyone puts on an act some time. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

“If you do it well, we’ll see mummy again. She’ll come on one of those trains.”

You can book your tickets to Way to Heaven on Corpus Playroom’s webpage. Many thanks to the cast and crew for a great afternoon and evening!

– Johannes

Reviews: The Tab (4/5)

Red Cross Representative – Heather Fantham
Commandant – Will Bishop
Gershom Gottfried – Toby Marlow
Woman 1 – Beth D
Woman 2 – Amy Malone
Man – Jake Morris
Girl – Ellen McGrath
Boy – Elliott Wright, Isaac Jordan, Adam Varley

Production Team
Director – Frank Martin
Assistant Director – Lola Seaton
Producer – Maud McCaffrey
Set Designer / Publicity Designer – Angelica van Clarke
Costume Designer – Phoebe Thomson, Charlie Clark
Lighting Designer – Johnny King
Photographer – Johannes Hjorth

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